Preview and Prediction: Republic of Ireland vs USA

USA will complete their 2014 schedule on Tuesday night when they travel to the Aviva Stadium to take on the Republic of Ireland in another international friendly.

They will be looking to bounce straight back from the defeat to Colombia on Friday night and a positive result will be essential, with a strong performance to match high on the agenda.

Ireland will be without their all-time leading goalscorer in Robbie Keane, as he was released on Saturday in order to prepare for his upcoming MLS playoff matches with the LA Galaxy.

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[Ireland and LA Galaxy star Robbie Keane will not feature against USA on Tuesday as he was released from the squad]

Furthermore, Jurgen Klinsmann has released four MLS-based players from duty in order to increase game time for those not involved in the playoffs.

Lee Nguyen, Jermaine Jones, DeAndre Yedlin and DaMarcus Beasley have all been sent home following the loss to Colombia. Nguyen and Jones need to prepare for New England Revolution’s push for the Eastern Conference title, while Yedlin will be with Supporters’ Shield winners Seattle Sounders as they look ahead to their clashes with the Galaxy.

Klinsmann has not called anyone else up so he will go into the Ireland game with a 21-man squad and several players will be hoping to impress.

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[Jurgen Klinsmann looks on from the dugout at Craven Cottage during the USA vs. Colombia game]

The last time the two sides met was in April 2002, just prior to the FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan. The game ended in a 2-1 win for the Republic of Ireland.

As much as this is billed as a friendly, both teams will want a result, as Ireland will be looking to regain a bit of form following their loss to Scotland, and the USA will be hoping to build towards the 2015 Gold Cup – which they are hosting.

This should be a good game, possibly open and end-to-end, but we expect that the USA will come out on top.

They played well against Colombia on Friday, and have enough quality to end 2014 on a high – something Klinsmann will be desperate to do.

Predicted USMNT lineup: Brad Guzan, Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron, John Brooks, Greg Garza, Alejandro Bedoya, Mix Diskerud, Kyle Beckerman, Julian Green, Jozy Altidore, Bobby Wood.

Key Player: Kyle Beckerman – Was influential on Friday night and provided cover for the USMNT when they were going forward. Expect him to anchor the US midfield once again.

Key Stat: USMNT forward Rubio Rubin would have been only three months old (18 years ago), the last time the USA beat Republic of Ireland.

Score Prediction: Republic of Ireland 0 – 2 USA

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What next for Klinsmann and the USA?

USA fell narrowly to Belgium in the last 16 of the World Cup on Tuesday night, losing 2-1 in extra time but they gave a great account of themselves and earned many plaudits from worldwide supporters.

The USA impressed and exceeded expectations at the World Cup and have now officially announced themselves as an elite footballing nation.

The performance last night typified them as a group. They were unified in defeat and resilient towards the end, with a never-say-die attitude that has to be admired.

Jurgen Klinsmann now has the task of building towards the next World Cup in Russia in 2018, and he has the potential in this squad to succeed there.

DeAndre Yedlin and Julian Green both showed promise and were both a threat against a very strong Belgium side.

Going forward, this ageing USA squad must develop the younger players, which will leave question marks over the international futures of players like DaMarcus Beasley and Kyle Beckerman.

The USA look very strong at the back, and have potential to better the current unit with the likes of John Anthony Brooks and Yedlin coming through the ranks.

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There is a question regarding the excellent Tim Howard and if he will be around for the next World Cup as he will be 39 by the time the tournament in Russia comes around.

There are plenty of emerging American goalkeepers in MLS that now have a chance to prove their quality to Jurgen Klinsmann ahead of the next tournament.

One thing is for sure, the USA can be proud of their team and they have more than proved they are capable of challenging the best on the biggest stage.

Belgium now progress to the quarter-finals on Saturday, where they will play Argentina.

USA win again but there are still major problems within the set-up

The USA beat Turkey 2-1 on Sunday night, setting the benchmark for upcoming performances, however Jurgen Klinsmann still doesn’t know his best team.

We can assume he will play the diamond formation, having used it in both warm-up games so far, but they are left open at the back and better teams like Germany and Portugal will tear them apart.

We take a look at the areas that need more attention:

1. Left back.

Klinsmann has used DaMarcus Beasley and Timothy Chandler so far and both have looked questionable at best.

Klinsmann isn’t budging on moving Fabian Johnson from right back, even though Chandler and Johnson prefer the opposite flanks.

They need to find a solution at left back and quick, or hope that Chandler or Beasley are up for the challenge come June 16.

2. Should Jozy Altidore lead the line?

Altidore looked very good but the only thing missing was a goal.

He hasn’t scored a goal since the 4th December so fans will be hoping he finds the net before the big opener against Ghana.

He used his strength throughout and was unlucky to have a goal disallowed for a push on the goalkeeper.

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3. Julian Green – too early?

The 18-year-old has only had one cap prior to his World Cup call up, and has yet to win over the USMNT fans.

Coming on against Turkey, he failed to make a valid contribution and the omission of Landon Donovan will look even worse to the USMNT faithful.

4. Portugal have Ronaldo, but the USA have Bradley.

We’re not going to begin to compare the two players, but they do mean a lot to their respective nations hopes at the World Cup.

Bradley is the pivotal player for the US and any hopes of them progressing out of the group lie solely on his ability to supply the goals, as he did last night. We expect him to have a great World Cup, although he will need a good supporting cast in front.

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5. Geoff Cameron, first choice centre-half?

Cameron has only played one game at centre back domestically this year, yet he looks set to play there at the World Cup.

Unless Klinsmann knows something we all don’t, we can’t understand the logic behind his defensive combinations. He has a right back playing left back, a left back playing right back, and another right back playing centre back!

If Cameron does start in the heart of defence, where does that leave natural defenders Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez?

Just how good is Landon Donovan? An in-depth look at the greatest ever MLS striker

As the dust is beginning to settle on the remarkable record set by Landon Donovan on Sunday and as his achievement starts to sink in, it’s a good time to judge how good he really is.

A striker will always be judged on the goals they have scored and how regularly they manage to score them.

But for a striker to be regarded as the complete player, they need to be capable of creating chances for others as well as sticking away the ones that fall their way.

In view of this, and taking in to consideration the top ten goalscorers in MLS history, how does Donovan compare and is he really the best of the lot?

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He has a shots-attempted-to-goals-scored conversion ratio of 20.5%, which is second only to the retired Roy Lassiter who had an impressive ratio of 22.1%.

If you combine the total amount of goals contributed in a game by any player, which includes goals scored and assists, Landon Donovan has the best record of all-time with an impressive average of 0.82 goals contributed per game.

The next most successful player is ex-New England Revolution man Taylor Twellman, who had a ratio of 0.74 goals contributed per game.

So not only is Donovan now officially the top goalscorer in MLS history, if you study the game and stats more closely you can see that he is genuinely the best striker to have graced any MLS pitch.

Once again – a big well done to Landon Donovan.

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So how has he missed out on being selected in the squad for the World Cup in Brazil?

In a nutshell, nobody really knows because statistically, he is more than good enough to have earned a spot in the team.

By not selecting Donovan, it suggests that there are 23 other American players better than he is, or that they will serve the team to a better extent, but this is hard to agree with.

Various critics have stated that it’s about developing for the future as the likes of Julian Green, 18, who plays for the Bayern Munich reserve side, have been given an opportunity.

But when you look at the ages of the other strikers included, you can see that surely this isn’t relevant to the selection and that for whatever reason it may be, Klinsmann just isn’t a fan of Donovan.

His league goals per game ratio is better than 3 of the other strikers selected, so one can only assume that it comes down to personal preference for Klinsmann.

League Goals per game average:

  • Landon Donovan (aged 32) – 0.44 league goals per game

Strikers Selected for the World Cup squad:

  • Chris Wondolowski (aged 31) – 0.47 league goals per game
  • Aron Johannsson (aged 23) – 0.43 league goals per game
  • Jozy Altidore (aged 24) – 0.31 league goals per game
  • Clint Dempsey (aged 31) – 0.30 league goals per game

The mystery surrounding his absence may never be solved, but it is clear that the USMNT would be in a better position were Landon Donovan set to fly out to Brazil next month, and it is disappointing to see the best striker MLS has ever seen miss out on the chance to represent his country for the fourth time.

All 136 of Landon Donovan’s MLS goals can be viewed below courtesy of mlssoccer.com:

Klinsmann names World Cup squad without Donovan but MLS is the overall winner

Jurgen Klinsmann named his final 23-man squad for the World Cup last night, and there is a strong MLS presence in the side, despite the shock decision of cutting Landon Donovan.

Landon Donovan will not be going to Brazil with the USMNT this summer, barring an injury to a player in the final 23, as the LA Galaxy midfielder is now on the standby list.

Klinsmann said the decision to omit the all-time leading goalscorer was “one of the hardest he has made in his coaching career” and it will be interesting to see how the side cope without their talisman.

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(Photo: Landon Donovan will not be travelling to Brazil with the USMNT)

Despite the absence of Donovan, ten Major League Soccer players are set to travel to Brazil with the squad, a good implication of how well the league is developing.

Only four MLS players made the squad in 2010, and there is a vast improvement on this in the team, just four years later.

Seattle Sounders right-back, DeAndre Yedlin, made the final 23 and is the first homegrown MLS player to travel to the World Cup, another crucial implication of just how well Major League Soccer is progressing.

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(Seattle’s Yedlin has made the final 23, the first homegrown MLS player to make the World Cup squad)

Klinsmann shocked many with his final roster, but he has to be respected for making the decisions that he thinks gives the side the best chance of success in Brazil.

Many are suggesting that by cutting 32-year-old Donovan for the likes of young Julian Green means that the German is planning for the 2018 World Cup, but the average age of the side is older than that of the team in 2010.

In South Africa four years ago, the USMNT’s average age was 26, whereas this side has an average age of 27.2, and the mix of experience and youth could prove beneficial in the intensity of the tournament.

Five of the seven players cut from the original 30-man squad play in MLS, and it would have been encouraging to see as many make it as possible, though it is reassuring to see so many involved in the first place.

The absence of Donovan will have many left stunned and disappointed, but they must now get behind their team and support the players that Klinsmann has selected if they are to have any chance of getting out of the ‘Group of Death’.

The USMNT open up their World Cup campaign against Ghana on June 16, before playing Portugal and Germany in the group stages.

The final 23-man USMNT squad in full:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

STANDBY LIST (7): Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Wien), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew)

Julian Green: Wildcard wonderkid

Julian Wesley Green was born in Tampa Bay, Florida, but moved to Germany with his parents when he was two-years-old.

Born from an American father and German mother, the talented striker possesses dual citizenship with both nations vying for his allegiance.

He has played at youth level for both nations, but on the 24th march FIFA accepted his request to change nationality to American with immediate effect.

And he has now been selected by Jurgen Klinsmann as a part of the USMNT preliminary World Cup Squad.

After having been educated in Germany, Green possesses the ability to play as either a striker or a winger, a philosophy created by Klinsmann during his time coaching the German national team.

The 18-year-old is currently playing for Bayern Munich, and he made his professional debut in the UEFA Champions League in November 2013, and now looks sets for a bright future.

Since changing allegiance, Green has already made his USMNT debut, coming off the bench in a friendly against Mexico in April.

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(Photo: Julian Green in action against Mexico in his USMNT debut)

A bit of an unknown commodity amongst fans, Green has the potential and the skillset to transform American soccer.

In a new age where US soccer is constantly evolving, Green could be the man to guide them through the transition.

Critics will question why he decided to change allegiance, seeing as he played for the German under-19 side at the young age of eighteen.

However, having scored fifteen goals in twenty-three games this season for Bayern Munich II, it looks as though he may have the tools to transform the USMNT into a dangerous attacking force.

All we know about him so far is that he has bags of potential, but selecting him to go to the World Cup could do one of two things for Green; he could be selected with the aim of gaining valuable experience, or he could go and set the group alight.

Oh, and he could also line-up against Germany when the two sides meet in Group G, the country he opted against playing for.

The forward clearly has talent, as he looked set to play for Germany, but the option to play for USA may prove to be the right choice, as he will certainly win caps quicker due to less competition in the US side.

Green will know if he’s on the plane by the 2nd June, although with Klinsmann being German and Green giving the team a new dimension, don’t be surprised to see him make the final 23.